By KEVIN BOWDEN
After two consecutive months in which Obion County’s unemployment rate declined, the county’s March jobless rate has increased slightly to 12.6 percent.
The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development released its monthly unemployment report Thursday and Obion County’s March jobless rate was ranked as the fifth highest in the state.
The jobless report shows the northwest Tennessee region is continuing to struggle from the July 2011 shutdown of the Union City Goodyear plant.
Six of the 10 counties with the highest unemployment rates in the state are located in West Tennessee — Lauderdale, Lawrence, Gibson, Obion, Carroll and Haywood counties.
The impact of the tire plant’s closure on the local unemployment rate was immediate and has lingered over the course of the past 20 months. Obion County’s jobless rate spiked to 16.6 percent in July 2011 and climbed to 17.2 percent in January 2012. The local unemployment rate has not dropped below 12 percent since the closure of the local Goodyear plant.
The county’s jobless rate dropped to 12.8 percent in January and then came down to 12.4 percent in February.
The March unemployment rate for Obion County means there were 1,800 people unemployed in the county last month. According to the state jobless report, approximately 58 percent of those unemployed in March were women and 42 percent were men.
Obion County has consistently ranked among the counties with highest unemployment in the state since July 2011.
Elsewhere across northwest Tennessee:
• In Weakley County, the March unemployment rate was 11.2 percent. That translates to 1,780 people out of work last month.
• In Dyer County, the March unemployment rate was 11.9 percent. That translates to 2,030 people out of work last month.
• In Gibson County, the March unemployment rate was 13 percent. That translates to 2,770 people out of work last month.
• In Lake County, the March unemployment rate was 10.6 percent. That translates to 290 people out of work last month.
Scott County’s 17.2 percent March unemployment rate was the highest in the state and Williamson County’s 5.1 percent March unemployment rate was the lowest in the state.
Tennessee’s March unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, up slightly from the state’s February rate. The state’s March jobless rate is slightly higher than the national unemployment rate for March — 7.6 percent. There were 245,500 people without a job across Tennessee in March, according to the state report.
The state’s jobless report shows the unemployment rate increased from February to March in 24 counties, decreased in 58 counties and remained unchanged in 13 counties.
The March jobless rate was 10 percent or higher in 44 of Tennessee’s 95 counties, according to the state report.
The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training released its county unemployment report Thursday, showing Fulton County’s March jobless rate at 14.6 percent and Hickman County’s March jobless rate at 9.1 percent. Fulton County’s March jobless rate was the highest among the eight counties that make up Kentucky’s Purchase Area Development District.
Fulton County’s 14.6 percent jobless rate translates to 360 people out of work in March, while Hickman County had 179 people unemployed that month.
Magoffin County, located in east-central Kentucky, had the commonwealth’s highest March unemployment rate at 18.3 percent.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden @ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.26.13